While the Yankees await on the return of starting centerfielder Harrison Bader, who is reportedly nearing a rehab assignment, the Yankees have some decisions to make regarding the makeup of their roster. One question for the team to consider will be how does the Aaron Hicks contract situation impact the decision making.
With the returns to the lineup for Bader and Josh Donaldson, combined with the hot start of Franchy Cordero, the Yankees will soon find themselves in a situation of having too many players for not enough spots on the roster.
The Aaron Hicks Contract
When the Yankees signed the Aaron Hicks contract extension, the team likely thought they were getting their starting centerfielder for the foreseeable future. However, despite some big home runs against Houston, Hicks has largely struggled, both with injuries and performance, since signing the extension.
The Hicks contract extends through the end of the 2025 season with a $12 million club option for 2026. With his current rate of play, it can be safely assumed that the club option will be declined in favor of a $1 million buy-out. Meanwhile, Hicks will make just under $11 million this year while earning just under $10 million over the next two seasons.
Currently, the Yankees have multiple options that are playing well in the outfield. Aaron Judge will have a spot in either center or right field for just about every game this season. Meanwhile, once Bader returns it’s hard to envision his name not frequently being penned in the lineup.
In left field, Giancarlo Stanton will likely continue to see some time while Oswaldo Cabrera is quickly proving himself as a reliable bat in both the infield and the outfield. With Franchy Cordero off to a hot start, the Yankees will likely look to ride the hot hand, especially with adding his lefty bat into a righty-dominated lineup.
For the Yankees roster, it feels like it will have to come down to either him or converted infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the last spot in the outfield. With IKF’s position flexibility and speed of the bench, will the Yankees view him as a more viable piece to the puzzle?
In his limited appearances this season, Hicks has struggled both at the plate and in the field. Currently Hicks has a batting average of .167 and his usually higher on-base percentage is a nearly woeful .211.
In the field, Hicks found himself unable to come up with a few diving catches in a recent win against Cleveland. Combined with a few misadventures in left field, and it’s clear the Yankees are no longer confidant in Hicks’ defensive ability.
The team could look to keep Hicks in a backup role in the event of a Yankees injury situation, but the Aaron Hicks contract will make him one of the most expensive backups in baseball.
Trying to Move Hicks
The best case scenario for the Yankees appears to be finding a trade partner to move the Aaron Hicks contract from their payroll. Doing so would free up the Yankees roster while moving a player that has already shown signs of being a locker room issue this season.
The biggest question facing the Yankees roster is if they can find a way to move Hicks. With the years and money remaining, most teams will be hesitant to trade for him. However, if the Yankees either retain some of the Aaron Hicks contract or include a higher profile prospect, they might be able to find a trade partner.
If not, considering the front office’s lack of desire to eat a bad contract, it appears Yankees fans are in for another long season of Aaron Hicks.
Let us know in the comments below how you think the Aaron Hicks contract situation ends in New York?
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